by Emily Yin

They say empty yourself, and she says it is no longer possible.
Define ostracism. Unholy ostrich, burying
its head in sandy graves.
Yeah, I’m okay. (Consider the ostrich, which remakes
reality through denial. Which is to say: if she ignores the elephant
in the room, it eventually becomes a flea. Which is to say:
her smile hangs on a tightrope.) She toes it daily, fearing
that one misstep, one wavering smile or slacken hand, will reveal
her guilt. But happiness is not a path to walk. The line cannot hold;
things fall apart.
She says help and it comes out as great. Something got lost
in translation. Great—wasn’t meant to be found again.
Call her strange. Call her alien,
but it’s not her fault. She was made a leper by this world.
Blame it on the sunset of her composure.
Please, please understand. Such words are cheapened
by a shaking voice.
What is her guilt?
Her guilt is written on her face, frozen
and misconstrued as cold. Her guilt is stained
on thawing eyes, breaking lips. Her guilt
is not that she wages a war, but that the enemy is herself,
and the casualties are frightful.
They understand fear of dogs, of darkness, of death.
Hers is unforgivable.
They say speak up, and she says you won’t hear me anyway.

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